1445 MST

John has just awakened from a 2 hr and 15 min nap. “Dayee, peepoo.”

“Did you pee or did you poop?”

“Peepoo. Shire, bat.”

“First, we’ll change your diaper. Then take a bath.”


“Right.” We adjourned to the bedroom for a diaper change only to find out there was, in fact, a 4 wipe peepoo. After a several minute cleanup and several muttered curse words, I managed to change and dress John.

“Dayee, bat.” John reminded me.

“That’s right,” I said. “I’ll get the water going and we’ll get you undressed.”

I started the bath and made sure the water wasn’t too hot. Just then I sensed motion behind me and turned around just as 29 pounds of toddler came flying into the bathroom and dove over the edge of the tub like Superman, face planting fully-clothed in a couple inches of warm water.

He sat up completely soaked and said. “Dayee, bat.”

“I guess so.” I undressed him and bath time began in earnest.


Several minutes later, all of mama’s products decorated the bottom of the tub and a gallon or two of water pooled on the bathroom floor. I decided bat-time was over. John got a bath and daddy got a shire.

I wrapped him in a towel and sat him on the bed while I went to pick out dry clothes. I’d just gotten into his room when he called from the other room.

“Dayee, peepoo.”

What’s Goin’ On

I’ve got a question for you. How important is your political ideology to you? Does it define you? Are you a liberal Democrat or Conservative Republican before all else? Or maybe you’re down with Peace and Freedom. Whichever way you lean, how important is it to you?

How important is your country to you?

Are the best interests of its people as a collective whole more important than whether or not your candidate “wins?”

Is flipping the bird to the other guy or guys more important than giving your nation what it needs to heal, even if what it needs is somewhere between what you want and what they want?

What if what your country needs is not partisanship at all?

Here’s another question. Can we, the people, get past our petty and vindictive natures?

I believe we can, though it will require much of us. We will need to compromise some of our highly prized ideology and possibly even sacrifice something in the way of position or advancement for ourselves or our favorite candidate. Though I also acknowledge some things–like the sanctity of human life–are beyond compromise.

What we’re talking about is a revival of this country, and not just of religious values, but also political and socioeconomic. And musical, for that matter. Someone needs to do something about Katy Perry, and nothing like Call Me Maybe should ever happen again. I won’t even mention the evil of smooth jazz.

Seriously, though. The country is no more beyond saving than the people who live in it.

We just have to do the work.

Finding My Place to Serve

If someone would have told me even a year ago I’d be serving and worshipping with the FCC Youth Ministry in any way other than perhaps vacuuming the Upper Room I would have told them they had to be higher than the clear blue sky.

Yet that is what happened.

One or perhaps two Sunday mornings a month you will find me in the high school room doing my best impersonation of “teacher.” I wonder how I got there sometimes. Oh, yeah. It’s because my wife is more awesome than yours.

We were having a conversation about serving, and where we might do that. More specifically where I might serve. She encouraged me to think of where I’d been hurt the most, and blessed with the most healing by God. She said she thought that is where I would be most effective in my service.

High school, without a doubt.

I was not a popular kid. I was a geek then and am now. The popular kids then were just as ruthless then as they today, I’d imagine. When you combine that with the deaths of three people close to me thanks to heart attack, suicide and cancer from 16-18 you get a messed up kid, which I very much was.

I made it, though, and I am here today by the Grace of a loving and forgiving God who saw fit to speak truth about my value to Him into my wasted heart. I may be patched, and I may be scarred, but Jesus was, too.

The knowledge that he did those things on my part is why I can go into that room on Sunday mornings and just keep sharing with the kids the truth that’s been revealed to me, even though it scares the crap out of me sometimes.

Aside: Let me tell you about the Youth Ministers at FCC. They are two young men who lift those kids up in ways many of them will never even know. They preach, and teach, and pray, and they make the kids think and challenge the things that feel so much like truth when you’re young.

They use the gospel, and humor, and truth, and the Grace empowered them by a God who is in the business of reaching people. These men, along with the other men and women who serve as teachers and Focus Group leaders, prayors and laborers–they’re doing a great work, and a labor of love. They are, to a person, awesome.

–end of aside

I am not yet including myself in that awesomeness, because I have much yet to learn. Yet because of serving with them and praying with them over the past few months, I know I am in the right place and doing the right thing. I thank and praise God for that assurance.

It is no picnic. It’s tough being a kid, and often being made to go places you aren’t that interested in being. Like Sunday School.

I’m not giving up on them, and I plan to stick with both the ministry and them as long as they’ll have me or until God wants me somewhere else. Certainly the kids will change with the time. I hope I do, too.

Right now, I’m just really grateful to be here, and have the chance to do what I’m doing.

Your Story Matters

Last night at church Zeb talked about sharing your story and faith with people, and how effective it can be. I believe it. Hearing stories from people about what God had done in their lives showed him to me in a way just hearing a lesson never would have.

I think our stories are so effective because they can show people they aren’t alone in their struggles, and that there is hope.

For what it’s worth, here’s something I came up with a while back that gives you an idea about my story.


I’ve been following the growth of my former church in San Diego for several years now via Facebook and the church website. I’m not at all surprised to see them spreading out over the city and impacting it, for Jesus. Just today I saw a post on Facebook that they had an ‘all-church’ baptism for more than 160 people. Pretty amazing stuff.

Without question or compare, CVCF was the most spirit-filled and spirit-led congregation I was a part of in San Diego, and I was part of quite a few. Pastor Mike Quinn is one of the most humble and faithful servants and leaders I’ve ever met, as were all of the staff and elders (one of whom became a good friend, but more on that another time).

I think of one particular time back in 2006. All the new small group leaders were supposed to attend this rally/class at the Tierrasanta campus, and I was leading a group for those people new to the church–CV101, they called it at the time. I remember Pastor Mike and another gentleman (Billy Pirtle, I think it was) washing the feet of all the new and previous leaders. There were a lot of people. I remember I didn’t want him to wash mine because they were giant, hairy, disgusting hobbit feet. I had not come prepared.

Yet wash them he did. I remember him doing it, and praying for me and my small group (who at the time had no members) all the while, so intently he looked about to tear up. I learned plenty about humility in leadership from Pastor Mike.

There are many reasons why CVCF impacted my life so much, but for the purpose of this writing, I will focus on just two. I don’t want to crash the WordPress server.

1. Small Groups. Pastor Mike always used to say he was after each and every one of us to take part in a small group, and after a relatively short while, I decided to take part in one. It was what was then called the “career group,” I think, and was led by Matt and Carrie, before they were the Botkins.

That group made me realized how important that kind of community is to a person’s spiritual growth, and the friendship, discipleship, love and acceptance I found there are a big part of the reason I was able to lead several groups of my own, eventually.

A friend from Atlanta once described the small group dynamic to me like this, and I thought it was a pretty good comparison. Going to a church service is like walking into the foyer of a house. You don’t really do any socializing there. You’d go into the living room, or the kitchen, or somewhere you’d be more comfortable.

Church is like that because in a smaller setting, like a home group or bible study– that’s where the real ministry gets done. That’s where we learn the most about God and ourselves.

I think that’s so true. And the small group ministry at CVCF helped me to find something within myself I never knew was there. God called a leader out of me, and that was the last thing I expected. I still talk semi-regularly with Matt (mostly via social networking, unfortunately), and I will always be grateful for his friendship and leadership as well.

If you’re not part of a small group or bible study at your church, you need to be. I believe it to be a vital part of the process of edification, and a place where true fellowship happens and real accountability can be found.

My wife and I were part of a great group a little while ago that was like that for me–for us. It was led by the (at the time) youth minister at FCC, and it was a really interesting and diverse collection of people, that together made for some great discussions and powerful times of fellowship. I learned a lot from that group, and I hope when my wife and I are able to start up something similar at our home it works out the same for those people from The Rock Church who will attend. I might also add that Zeb, the leader of my former group, has become one of my closest friends (next to my wife, Jen), and has been a tremendous blessing to me.

2. Prayer. CVCF was the first church I’d been to where I saw someone literally prostrate themselves in prayer. It kind of perplexed me at first because I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It was intense. I began to see more and more people experiencing God in ways that were foreign to me, and worshipping with true abandon. You can find a little more about my experience in that ministry

It was kind of a trip at first, but not long after I became a member at CVCF, I found out about Healing Prayer, which is truly something extraordinary. I first experienced HP as a prayee, which is the person being prayed for. It was through that experience I learned a great deal about my own woundings, and was able to hear God’s truth about them and myself for the first time.

Not long after that experience, I was actually able to join the ministry as an intercessor. It was through nearly four years of that experience–of praying for others–that I learned what a difference prayer can really make, and the changes it can bring in a life through the Holy Spirit.

I also learned through HP that I seem to have some small gift for speaking to people who are broken in many ways and not breaking them further. I love talking to people, and HP offered me the chance not to just talk to them, but pray for them. Pray with them. Anoint them, and bless them.

Through HP I learned about the truth of spiritual warfare, and what true deliverance looks like. I learned that heroes can also be school teachers, and hospital administrators, and nurses, and stay at home mothers. I learned that God can use anyone at anytime to reach out to people in pain, to broken and brokenhearted people and bring them healing through His truth.

It was through HP I found the courage to face my own darkness and realize through Jesus it had never really been that dark. I learned how to take the battle to the enemy, who is just as real as God.

All of that to say if it were not for CVCF and the people I spent time with while I was there, I would certainly not be here today. It’s an extraordinary, vibrant and spirit-filled church, and if you’re in San Diego and don’t have a church home, I encourage you to check it out (here).

I know they are not called CVCF anymore, but they were the whole time I was there and that’s what they’ll always be to me.

So thanks to Kris for inviting me there.

Thanks to Merrill and Allyn for believing in me, encouraging me, and holding me accountable.

Thanks to Pastor Mike Quinn, for being an amazing shepherd.

Thanks to all the people involved in the HP ministry with me over the years I was there. There are too many to mention, but you all know who you are.

You helped me to find this place in the desert, where I belong. This family I love, and this amazing house of worship where I now serve.


But this had to happen first, and thank God it did.



This morning I read a summary of remarks made by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards at the DNC, and the gist of them was that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and others want to make it difficult for women to obtain healthcare and other services, which are often obtained through Planned Parenthood.

I wanted to know more about what she said exactly, so I found a transcript of her speech here .

The summary seemed fairly accurate, but it did make me want to know a little more about Planned Parenthood.

They are:

the largest U.S. provider of reproductive health services, including cancer screening, HIV screening and counseling, contraception and abortion. Contraception accounts for 35% of PP’s total services and abortions account for 3%. PP conducts roughly 300,000 abortions each year, among 3 million people served.

In a fact sheet published in March of 2011, Planned Parenthood stated in 2009, they performed 332,278 abortions, out of 11,383,900 “services” performed, which would come close to confirming their stated 3% figure (more statistics available here).

Let’s just look at 332,278, the number of abortions performed in 2009. That’s a lot, even if it is a small percentage.

I think the problem Planned Parenthood is having is that they don’t want to separate themselves from that number. I believe if they did, they wouldn’t have as much trouble obtaining funding for their other “services,” which are absolutely worthwhile.

So in my opinion, Mitt Romney and others in the GOP are not necessarily wanting to deny funding to PP as simply a corporate entity, rather as a provider of abortions, small as the percentage performed actually is.

I can’t support any number, and consequently am unable to vote for anyone that does, directly or indirectly. Allow me to express my personal reasons:






It’s interesting how scripture can and will lead you on a journey, if you let it. This morning, for example. I sat down at the kitchen table to read, and my bible was still bookmarked in Acts from church this weekend. A reference to Deuteronomy 30:14 caught my eye:

No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

The word is in my heart.

I struggle to find time for it sometimes. There are so many more important things. Things like breakfast, and Facebook, and fooling around on the computer.

The word is in my heart so I may obey it.

This led me to Deuteronomy 30, so I could get the context of verse 14.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I look at verse 17 and 18 and it makes me so aware this is where so many are headed in today’s culture of self-absorption, self-gratification, and moral relativism.

We’ve become “tolerant” of so much as a people–as a country–that things have become permissible and even encouraged that would have landed people in chains not long ago.

It really gives me this sinking feeling when I think about it. Knowing what the world was made to be and could have been and then juxtaposing that with what it’s become is heartbreaking.

So many “religions” are coming to prominence these days that are turning heads and hearts from the only real deliverer.

The names and small g gods don’t really even matter because they are all the same, and lead to the same place.

Which isn’t heaven.

Heaven isn’t simply a state of mind, or a cornfield in Iowa. Nor is Hell.

These places are real, and the truth does not lie in Universalism, or Mormonism, or Hinduism, or any other ism. It’s great to make people feel better about themselves, but they also need to know the truth.

Wide is the path that leads to destruction, and lots of people walk it. More every day.

If you want to know the truth, and you want to avoid the destruction promised in Deuteronomy 30, you need only look to the red letters of John 14:6 (they’re red in my Life Application Study Bible, anyway):

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

It’s pretty simple, really. It might not be a popular view. It may not be thought of as “tolerant” of other religions. Some people might think it arrogant of Christians to think it, much less say it.

But it’s the truth.

Our job, believers, our only job, is to bring that truth to people and places that don’t know it. To government officials who don’t practice it, but pay lip service to curry favor and win elections, to people that hate us, and hate God.

We aren’t meant for destruction, and we need to put our petty denominational squabbles aside and do the work we were given.

I think of a song by the band Switchfoot;

we were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?

We need to stop trying to make the popular kids like us, and start telling them the truth.

We need to be unpopular. We need to diminish ourselves, that He may increase. So people that don’t know him will Choose life, and their families will live.

John vs The Spic N Span

I made breakfast this morning, and it was pretty good. I’d just finished cleaning up, and then Jen was going to go get her toes did. It was time for another dudes morning.

David watched an episode of Lego Ninjas on YouTube while John and I relaxed on the couch with some Barney on the big screen.

John got up and I saw him head toward the kitchen.

“Where are you going, John Ryan?” I asked.


“Daddy will get you a drink.” I got up off the couch and headed to the kitchen while John disappeared around the corner.

I heard the refrigerator door open followed by a crash.

“uh oh.”

“Aw, crap.”

John had opened the door and grabbed onto one of the shelves, which came off the door, spilling the door contents onto the floor, including a glass jar of Alfredo sauce, which promptly exploded.



I got John his dink and planted him on the couch with a fresh episode of Barney, then headed to the kitchen for cleanup: The Sequel.

I got the broom, the mop, and a large bottle of Spic n Span cleaner from the closet. I leaned the mop and broom against the bar and set the Spic n Span on the kitchen table.

I knelt down and began picking up chunks of broken glass, dropping them into the trash one by one and cursing softly under my breath.

I finished picking up the broken glass and wiping up the Alfredo sauce and stood up to get the broom.

No broom, and no mop. I realized Barney had been turned off.

“John, where are you?” I called.

“Dayee. Shire, bat (Daddy. Shower, bath).” from the hallway.

What now? I wondered. I saw this sitting on the table and knew no good could come of it.


I came around the corner and John was standing in the hallway with the broom and the mop at his feet. There was a strong smell of Spic n Span in the air.

In his zeal to clean, he’d sprayed enough cleaner on his chest and arms to completely soak himself, then dragged the mop and broom into the hall to start cleaning.

“Dayee. Shire, bat.”

“Aw, crap.”

We headed off for a shire and a bat and had a grand time. It took me another 5 minutes to clean the bathroom.


I got him dressed, and we headed back to the scene of the crime. John wanted to help clean up, while finishing his dink.


All of that between 10 and 11. We’re sitting on the couch now and hanging out with Elmo. John is grounded from the kitchen.

Tough Questions, Tough Decisions

We talked about Mormonism vs Christianity last night for the High School/College Sunday school class, and it was a really interesting discussion. Zeb showed part of a documentary that was more of a compare and contrast between the two.

It was doubly interesting because you hear so much about the similarities between the two religions, to the extent it makes them sound like pretty much just different sides of the same coin.

No. Different coins, man. Different currency.

Mormonism does not align with Christian scripture, does not align with the bible. I am not here to debunk all the many points of Mormonism vs Christianity, though I encourage you to look into the differences yourself.

There are many of them, and though Mormons do a lot of good and are without question some of the nicest people you will ever meet, there is something missing in their theology.

Zeb offered a simple question in the way of testing whether or not Mormonism or any religion is “Christianity.”

What does it say about Jesus?

After viewing the documentary footage last night and asking myself the above question I can say that Mormons can call themselves whatever they want–they do not follow the Jesus of the bible. And the Book of Mormon is not “another gospel of Jesus Christ,” but more akin to “Religious fiction.”

That being said, it obviously led me to thinking about the current presidential election.

Is it possible to separate my beliefs about politics and what goes on in the country and the world?

What do the candidates say about Jesus?

I’ve heard President Obama profess a belief in Jesus on many occasions, and claim Christianity, even in the face of stubborn and often stupid accusations. For my part, if he says he believes, I’ll take him at his word.

Governor Romney claims to believe in Jesus as well, but also professes a strong Mormon faith. I do not question his character, and agree with more of his potential policies than disagree.

The only thing is, I’ve also heard him say words to the effect that Mormonism is Christianity and Mormons proclaim the same Jesus as Christians.

That isn’t true.

If Gov Romney doesn’t believe the things he says and says them anyway, he’s covering up some glaring flaws in a religion he pays lip service to because he wants to be president. President Obama could be guilty of the same thing.

If Gov Romney does believe the things he says about Mormonism and Christianity he’s a fool and an apostate, and will one day face judgment for those things.

Based in what those two men say about Jesus and what I believe in my heart about Him, I’m going to have some hard decisions to make in the time before the election, and some hard questions to ask myself.

Can I really separate what I believe about politics from my faith?

Should I?

How about the candidates? Can they do the same?

So many questions…

The Danger of Social Networking

Yesterday I learned a valuable lesson about social networking, and that lesson is this:

Whichever social networking platform you prefer, It’s clearly an invaluable tool for getting and keeping in touch with friends and family, and useful for sharing photos and other things.

That said, social networking has an inherent danger. Like text messaging, you can’t grasp the subtleties or nuances of a conversation when you’re reading a status update, tweet, or whatever other services call it.

Also, because even though the people reading the things a person says are supposedly “friends,” they often don’t really know each other, or at least not well.

So while whatever point you’re trying to get across may be true and valid, you never know who you’re going to offend by making it. And there are clearly also some people who sometimes use social networking to say things they would never say in person.

Because of this, there are times when something that starts with a perfectly innocuous question often ends in ugliness, hurt feelings, and possibly even far reaching consequences.

Mainly, this is because you never know what’s going on (or has gone on) in a person’s life when they read your stuff.

Consequently, you also never know when they’re going to flip out on you and start puking ugliness or saying things they won’t be able to get back.

The other thing to consider is a person needs to weigh the material they’re going to share and decide if a huge and impersonal platform is appropriate.

I would also offer this: if one has a problem with something said, a simple email or private message can go a long way toward clearing things up. It can also avoid dozens of people feeling the need to attack or defend a person or point.

It’s possible to confront someone in an appropriate manner and resolve a situation without hurting feelings or having a person blow a gasket, which is what happened yesterday.

I’d also say that if you’re a person with thin skin and a hair trigger, then social networking is probably not for you. But if you do choose to use it, stay away from contentious topics.

For my part, because I have a problem with not saying what I really feel, or not calling BS BS, I will probably hereafter restrict my comments to things like “lol,” and only share things like